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Tennis

Capriati, Davenport belie age

By wire services
Published September 10, 2004

NEW YORK - At 28, Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati are defying conventional wisdom. Considered old by women's tennis standards, each has steamrolled into today's U.S. Open semifinals.

"I believe I can win this tournament," Capriati said.

Davenport, no doubt, has similar feelings because nobody in either field is playing better. The highest remaining seed in the women's draw at No. 5, Davenport enters the semifinal against ninth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova with a 22-match winning streak. At Wimbledon, she talked about the possibility of retirement, but she has since won four straight tournaments. If she takes the title here, she will move to No. 1 in the world, a spot she last held in 2002.

"I'm in a great position," Davenport said. "I've done everything that I could possibly do to be ready to play here and do well. And now you just see what happens."

Despite never having played Davenport, Kuznetsova poses a serious threat. Earlier this year she defeated world No. 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne.

For all the hype and controversy surrounding Capriati's quarterfinal win Tuesday over Serena Williams, one obvious point seems to have been lost: The Saddlebrook resident played unbelievable tennis, controlling the tempo during the final two sets of her dramatic 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 win.

"I just fought hard and prevailed because of that," Capriati said. "I played smartly at times and mixed up my shots, and I just believed in myself."

Capriati, the eighth seed, is 0-3 in Open semifinals, but this appears to be her best chance of reaching the final in a tournament the New York native covets. Her opponent, sixth-seeded Elena Dementieva, another Russian, was a semifinalist here four years ago and her game has greatly improved since that surprising run. Still, she lacks consistency and is winless in three tries against Capriati.

A NEW DIRECTION: The WTA Tour, based in St. Petersburg, announced Thursday its vision for a more well-defined season that CEO Larry Scott hopes will increase popularity and build rivalries. The plan, Roadmap 2010, involves a series of changes beginning next year that include shortening the season to 10 months, better clarifying and differentiating the tournament tier structure, creating a new top series of marquee events, simplifying the rankings system and working closer with other governing bodies.

"This is the culmination of a lot of work that's gone in over the last year," Scott said.

The shorter season is one of the plan's cornerstones. Players currently have a five-week offseason, but Scott hopes to expand that to at least eight weeks. Another change will move the final round of the Fed Cup, the Davis Cup of women's tennis, to the week after the U.S. Open.

CALLING AHEAD: Capriati, who benefited greatly from a chair umpire's erroneous overrule against Williams, had called for the use of replay just a few days earlier. "This level of the game, when it's so close, one or two shots can make a difference," Capriati said. "I don't think it's fair. I'd like to know what we're waiting for. I don't see why they don't start at least trying it. Money, maybe. I don't know. I don't see this tournament being short on money, you know."

[Last modified September 10, 2004, 01:15:35]


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